Welcome back for part 2 of DC: The New Frontier. If you haven’t checked out the first part, you can find that on your podcast service of choice, or check it out here on VGU.tv. We discuss the remainder of the story, the animated adaptation, the special issue that touched on missing parts of the story and more. Take a listen!

Notes for the podcast below!

Story:

Flash is able to intercept Gorilla Grodd in Central City only to be attacked by Faraday and his government peeps. As Faraday tells Flash he is becoming government property and fires the trigger to tranq him, Flash vibrates away escaping.

Hal and Carol meet up with Ace at a car show, and Ace introduces them to the newest Challenger of the Unknown – June Robbins.

Scene change to John Jones as he inner-monologues about the John Henry character and how he is a true American hero fighting for the oppressed, but is sad it isn’t covered as widely as it should be. He’s then called into an interrogation room where a former engineer at Ferris Aircraft has mentally lost it, or so it would seem. He rambles on about how he saw a folder mentioning martians are on Earth and how the US is going to go to Mars. However, Faraday interrupts and takes the man away in fear of him spreading confidential info. John says goodbye to Faraday, but because of his mind reading, learns that everything the engineer said is true.

Hal Jordan, Rick Flagg, and the rest of the crew are testing the shuttle to go in space. Hal is kicked off the team after showboating which puts him in the doghouse with Carol after Flagg goes off on her.

Back in Tennessee we see that the John Henry character is worse for wear. The KKK are hunting him down and he’s hurt. He stumbles across a little white girl who he begs for help, pulling his mask up so she can look him in the eyes. Unfortunately for him, the racism goes deep and she rats him out. A news report is shown next detailing the man named John Wilson, a man whom he and his family were dragged out of their home by domestic terrorists. Who fought against this terrorism and became a symbol of hope. But it all ended for him when he was beaten, hung, and burned alive. He was a veteran of the Korean war. They show a picture of him with his wife and newborn in a much happier time after he came home. Then show the picture of whom he became, the black hooded figure with a noose around his neck hunting down the Ku Klux Klan. We see other people around the US watching this news report such as Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and John Jones. John becomes worried that something similar will happen if someone were to find a martian on Earth.

The reader takes a trip to Paradise Island where Wonder Woman is lounging before she catches Superman in the sky and they fly around. He wonders why she has disappeared and she tells him what happened the day she received the medal. She tells Superman the world doesn’t need another administration. They need a true leader. One with ideals and values, not an agenda.

Back in Gotham, we see John Jones in his martian form watching another broadcast. This time, it’s one that the Flash interrupts. He tells the world that the government tried to capture him when all he’s ever done is try to help other people. With the government hunting him down instead of the over 4000 unsolved cases, he doesn’t want to put his loved ones in danger and that he’s retiring. Between Flash and John Wilson, he has made his decision. John Jones will go back to Mars. He meets Batman at the batsignal and tells him all of the details he learned since their last meeting can be found in his apartment.

Next is a splash page of the notes John left Batman. He leaves him a note detailing his concern of “The Centre” and clippings of Dinosaur Island, a man in Arkham by the name of Adam Strange, and more.

Flagg and the crew are aboard the ship to head to Mars in the next scene. However as they get ready for takeoff, Faraday notices an odd figure in the smoke surrounding the ship. He confronts it and knows it’s a martian – John Jones. John quickly disarms Faraday, and fear of Faraday being killed by the rocket flames, saves Faraday at the expense of his consciousness. When he comes to, John wakes up in containment with Faraday looking on. John explains to Faraday why he didn’t let him die, in that he’s seen inside his mind and he’s trying to fight the good fight. In seeing all of that, John has been filled with hope.

Faraday then receives news that the shuttle is in trouble with loss of power. Flagg gets on the line with Jordan. He explains that during the last big war, he became close friends with three other people – King Faraday, Ace Morgan, and Hal’s dad Martin Jordan. Those four kept close eyes on Hal after Martin died knowing how much he loved his family. Ace watched him over Korea. Flagg figured it was his turn when Hal got to Ferris Aircraft. He didn’t let Hal on the craft because he knew the rate of survival was low. Because of his friendship with Martin, he couldn’t let Hal die up there too.

At that same time, we see the Challengers of the Unknown rocket towards space in an attempt to save Flagg and his crew. However, Faraday informs them to abort, but Ace drowns him out as a refusal to listen. He tries to call in Superman who is in a battle with a giant robot in Tokyo. When that fails, Faraday informs the people around him that the ship has three warheads in case the martians were a threat – viral warhead, a nerve agent, and a hydrogen bomb. If it comes back to Earth, they will detonate there and knows Flagg has to detonate it before it reaches the atmosphere.

The Challengers are in the process of saving the rocket when Superman arrives on time. It’s in those final moments before Flagg pulls the trigger that we see his dreams of the life that could be. The life with the love of his life and fellow crewmate Karin. As the rocket explodes, Superman is able to save the two Challengers who were attached to the rocket, and would have died either from the explosion or entering the atmosphere. Soon after, it’s the funeral of Karin and Flagg, and Faraday is seen grieving one of his few friends.

A flash of green. Hal disappears and leaves a destroyed simulation room that Carol walks in on. Ace Morgan is on the phone with Hal, and unable to tell Ace what happened, Hal hangs up. He’s holding his ring and heads back down to the spaceship and alien that crashed. We then see Abin Sur being hit with a bright beam of yellow energy that almost kills him. Fearing the end of his life, he sought out a human worthy enough to wear the ring – Hal. The ring is handed over, and Hal Jordan becomes a Green Lantern. His first act – fly like he never flew before. He sees a vision of the Guardians as he heads into space and knows he can’t yet. He heads back down and buries Abin Sur, very sloppily, under a giant mountain after being spooked by a snake.

Next bit is with Lois and Jimmy interviewing and photographing the Challengers of the Unknown, but an alarm goes off. Prof and June run off allowing Jimmy and Lois to follow and see how they deal with things.

Chapter eleven starts with Clark looking over some information provided by Bruce. It’s the story of “The King of Monster Island”, created by a childrens book writer who killed himself upon completing the story. It’s the story of The Centre, a being born on Earth a millenia ago who saved dinosaurs upon the impact of the asteroid that caused the Ice Age. It’s body became an island that the dinosaurs could live on. As time passed and humans evolved becoming more and more violent (culminating in the hydrogen bomb), the Centre decided it had to take action. It was going to rid the planet of humans and then leave Earth to explore the galaxy.

Superman travels to Gotham with this knowledge and meets up with a newly designed Batman (after scaring the kid and wanting to be less frightening) along with his new and very excited sidekick Robin. Batman tells Superman that something must have been speaking through the author as it reads like nothing else he wrote. Batman is fearful that whatever was speaking through him will soon attack and wanted to pass that info on to someone who has the power to stop it. It’s here that we learn they staged their fight (bring up the special issue detailing the fight?). Superman has been trying to change the government from the inside to allow people like Batman to work while he did his own thing not caring what they decided. He knows it will change, but only when they truly need them.

An ominous shadow fills the sky of Paradise Island.

Faraday and John playing chess. John tells King he knows something is coming and thinks everyone should be prepared. Faraday knows this as well based on reports around the country of dread.

Scene change back to the Challengers with Lois and Jimmy heading towards Cape Canaveral. They quickly learn what the trouble is – a giant winged creature. Thankfully, Superman is quick to arrive as well and puts the creature down.

Quick scene of Aquaman preparing his army to go against the Centre if needed.

Back with Superman and the others. They are told something big is headed their way. Before anything else can happen, Wonder Woman in her invisible jet crashes there. Superman pulls her out of the blood covered cockpit before racing her to a medic.

The Challengers are trying to locate Dinosaur Island to no avail, it completely missing, but then catching a news report by Lois Lane who convinced someone to pilot a helicopter out to recon what was headed towards Cape Canaveral. It is indeed something big, probably 25 miles across. A floating island with different flying creatures surrounding it attacking jets around it. It is able to transmit a buzz in the minds of anyone around and the entire body is covered with smaller creatures. Large ports on the side that emit energy or pull things into it.

Barry Allen is watching at home and decides it’s time to become the Flash again. Iris is ahead of him, telling him how she knew his secret, and reassures him that he is a hero and it’s time to show the world that he is too.

Faraday lets John know he is heading to Cape Canaveral and wants to bring him along. We see Vandal Savage also locked up claiming he has been on the island, but Faraday quickly dismisses him. John becomes humanoid in an attempt to be lessen his frightening appearance while not trying to hide that he isn’t human. We see classic Martian Manhunter before Faraday tells him pants are cooler, so John shifts into a green man wearing a suit.

Other heroes are shown learning about the battle about to take place – Green Arrow and Speedy, The Sea Devils, Blackhawks.

Hal is watching too and wants to take part. He is about to take out a prototype aircraft before being stopped by Carol. Hal tells her he knows he is willing to kill for survival, despite people thinking he is a complete pacifist. They share one last kiss before he heads out.

Wonder Woman tells Superman of the Centre attacking Paradise Island. Not so much attacking as just passing by. But the sheer number of threats it posed quickly proved impossible to the Amazonians. Wonder Woman tried to get there in time to warn them. They have to work together. And it’s Superman who needs to lead them.

Superman peeks outside to see squabbling among the troops and quickly puts a stop to it. He lays out a speech how they all need to work together. To bypass any animosity with each other to help stop the force willing to wipe out everyone. Faraday agrees and lends his support along with the US government to stop the Centre as John continues the fight to keep the Centre from his mind.

Superman goes out to recon the Centre. He quickly dispatches some of the beasts that attack him, but he is laid out instantly from a giant blast by the Centre leaving him crashing into the ocean.

Next scene is on the moon. We see the Spectre and Dr. Fate meeting up with the Phantom Stranger, Zatanna, and Billy Batson. While Spectre and Dr. Fate want to intervene in the fight against the Centre, the others feel it best they all stay out of it. This is the time for the heroes to prove they are capable of doing it themselves without the help of the old generation.

Lois tries to tell the world that Superman has been defeated. She can’t make it through without breaking down.

More people joining the fight. Bruce Wayne in joint with Lexco is sending all available aircrafts to aid in the fight. Adam Strange has been given the clearance to leave Arkham with his jetpack and gun.

The prototype Hal is using crashes, but he’s able to power it again using the ring.

Adam Strange meets up with Ray Palmer. He thinks he knows how to defeat the Centre, and it’s by using a flawed invention Ray created.

Faraday meets up with the Flash and tries to tell Flash no hard feelings for attempting to capture him earlier. Flash clocks him one and walks out as Adam Strange and Ray Palmer walk in. They tell the plan to Faraday and they all relay it to the bigger minds at work such as Prof from the Challengers, Will Magnus, Niles Caulder, and more.

An explanation to the troops of what the plan is. A diversion will take place all over the top of the Centre while another set of planes head inside to try and use some warheads to wreak havoc inside of it. However, it’s the Flash with the main goal. He will use Ray Palmers invention to run all over the Centre to use Ray’s shrinking ray to cover the entire body to shrink the Centre. But because of it’s inability to maintain integrity, it would cause the Centre to explode.

Everyone heads out, but as they do, the original creature that Superman took down earlier explodes from within and a spawn of other creatures flood the beach.

The attack on the Centre begins. We see planes exploding and the Sea Devils pulling people out of the water as rescue boats. Ace Morgan and Hal Jordan head inside. We see Jimmy Olsen about to be eaten as he struggles to load film just in time to take a picture of Wonder Woman joining the fight and saving Jimmy.

Faraday tries to get John to safety, but the Centre finally breaks through and takes control of him. Faraday touches him, trying to force the Centre out of John and into himself and succeeds, although it results in Faraday dying. John changes into the Martian Manhunter again and really cuts loose, finally showcasing what he is capable of.

As Hal, Nathaniel Adams, and Ace head into the Centre, reality seems to warp around them. The Centre is able to read their minds and shift the landscape for each of them to reflect what it sees. Their ship starts being covered with red goop, and Hal knowing about the weakness to yellow that the green ring has, starts seeing walls of yellow crystal form around the space he’s in. As his ship explodes, he rockets out as Green Lantern. His mind is completely clear and he sees the space around him as it really is – the location of the brain. Nate realizes he has to press the button to release the warhead before he is overcome and does, killing himself. Hal is able to save Ace as they depart from the Centre.

It’s the Flash’s turn. He speeds over the water and leaps off a wave sending him on top of the Centre. As Hal and Ace watch on, Flash weaves and dodges the creatures as Rays machine starts covering the surface. As Flash starts to doubt his capability of success, he sees Wonder Woman and the Martian Manhunter fighting above him trying to aid him giving him inspiration. He thinks back on Iris and not wanting to let her down. And after succeeding to cover the entire Centre with Ray’s machine, he leaps off and is saved by Wonder Woman.

Before the Centre can explode, Hal creates a bubble around it to contain the blast and with approval from the Guardians, travels into space and throws it far away where it can detonate without destroying anything. His victory lap is done around space, the one place he’s always wanted to visit.

Night falls and the heroes are gathered around the beach. Suddenly something comes up out of the water. It opens up, and it’s Superman being carried by Aquaman. Aquaman mentions that Superman hasn’t shut up about a woman named Lois who quickly runs into his arms as Jimmy takes one last photo to commemorate the victory showcasing the heroes.

The epilogue shows flashes of everything with the backdrop of a JFK speech. Some things we see – Aquman revealing himself to the world, John Wilson’s gravestone and a black child reading a comic with the name “Irons” on his back sitting next to it, Ray learning to perfect his invention and shrinking himself, Rick Flagg’s son reading a report about his dad to his class, new teams of heroes such as the Doom Patrol and Metal Men, formation of the JLA, and more.

The last scene is a creature that came from The Centre, a giant starfish, that comes out of the water. This is a nod to the famous cover of The Brave and the Bold issue 28 back in 1960 where the Justice League fights Starro.

Justice League: The New Frontier – The Animated Movie:

Paul Levitz and Gregory Novek (Creative Services VP at DC) would speak with WB Home Video to have 3 direct-to-video animated movies that revolved around specific stories. New Frontier was one of them. However, Darwyn was neck deep in The Spirit that just launched, so he was unable to write the script. Instead they brought on Stan Berkowitz (former associate of the 90’s animated Batman/Superman cartoons) to write the first four drafts and then Darwyn would polish and re-write anything at the end. Darwyn also didn’t have time for the entire storyboard process, and only contributed about 10% of it (roughly 140-150 of the 1400 page storyboard)

According to Darwyn, Warner Studio was sort of a nightmare to deal with. During the scripting of the screenplay, characters (such as Wonder Woman and Lois Lane) were missing because they felt there wasn’t enough time for all of the characters featured in New Frontier. Darwyn fought hard, especially for Lois (noting how she is glue to link things together and is a perfect way for exposition due to being in front of a microphone).

Ultimately, what was cut was decided based on what the focus would become. The title was called “Justice League: The New Frontier”, so the main focus was on Justice League characters such as Flash and Green Lantern. Much of what was cut would be tangential stories that didn’t involve the “Justice League”. To try and get around this, the team would insert characters into scenes just to be on the screen, although they may not have any speaking parts (such as Adam Strange, John Henry, etc). Some of the beginning parts were folded into the opening credits (JSA disappearing, Hourmans death) and the movie starts with “The Last Story” of the Centre as opposed to the Losers and Dinosaur Island.

Other changes include:

  • Obviously much faster paced. Scenes a little out of order.
  • Centre speaking with Barry through Captain Cold or to J’onn J’onzz through the cultist.
  • Lois, instead of Wonder Woman, being the person to tell Superman the country needs a real leader
  • There’s no scene of Hal meeting his hero as a child, but in the movie he visits the same bar with the same bartender (Pancho) when he learns about the Centres attack.
  • Batman brings Ray Palmer to the battleground instead of Adam Strange and is involved in the final battle using his Batplane in the attack on the Centre.
  • Ace is never explicitly mentioned to be part of the Challengers of the Unknown, but he is in purple and the rest of the challengers are shown too.
  • The opening issue of the book has Cloud of The Losers going out by pulling grenades and jumping into a trex mouth. In movie it’s Faraday during the ending battle which is also the catalyst for J’onn to get his mind back

Random Trivia:

  • The Absolute Edition of New Frontier includes 12 previously unpublished pages. Darwyn thought he could include up to 48, but DC thought that may be too much, so they settled on 12. Much of what could have been included were things that felt unnecessary because people already knew how they worked such as the powers of the Flash or more of J’onn J’onzz backstory. However, because Darwyn thought the Dinosaur Island scene with the Suicide Squad was cool (especially in explaining how people started going mad and how the island had an effect on people), that is what stuck. These extra pages would be featured in later collections as well.
  • A special issue of New Frontier was released around the time of the animated film. This would include 3 stories that take place within or just outside the story. Characters involved include Wonder Woman (Mad Magazine-style story), Robin (teaming up with Kid Flash post-Frontier), and feature the Batman vs Superman fight. I’ll get to that soon.
  • Solo #5 includes a short story, written and drawn by Darwyn, about Faraday set in pre-revolutionary Cuba.
  • One of, if not the most proud, part of the story to him was involving John Wilson and the ties to John Henry. Darwyn wanted to confront the racial issues of the 50’s and the Civil Rights Movement in general. Darwyn was well aware that he couldn’t know what it was really like, but must have been praised by many of his black friends (based on what he was told) regarding those scenes, which is why he holds it up so highly.
  • The book won multiple Eisner Awards including Best Limited Series, Best Coloring, Best Publication Design. It would later win another Eisner for Best Graphic Album (Reprint) with the release of the Absolute Edition.
  • It won Harvey Awards for Best Artist, Best Colorist, and Best Continuing or Limited Series. Another would be won because of the Absolute Edition with Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work.
  • Won a Shuster Award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Cartoonist.

Justice League: The New Frontier – Special #1 Story

The issue starts with Rip Hunter acknowledging the audience about the story. He explains the world that The New Frontier takes place in and that it’s part of the 52 worlds that existed in that time. But he also notes that new worlds spring up all the time. It’s a pretty funny intro that says who cares what world they are on. Just enjoy the story.

Story 1:The Greater Good –  Batman vs Superman

The first story is Faraday showing Superman and Wonder Woman slides of the Batman. He wants them to bring Batman in after regular government people couldn’t. Wonder Woman sides against it seeing nothing good coming from standing against a man fighting for good. She walks out of the meeting and greets Bruce Wayne – who owns the boat for the summit in neutral territory. Superman meets up with President Eisenhower and speaks his indecisiveness about what he is being told to do. Eisenhower tries to explain his stance before asking how Clark’s parents are doing.

Next scene is Lex upset his piece of kryptonite was stolen. Next panel is Catwoman handing it over to Batman in preparation of what’s to come. Superman flies in seeing the bat signal unsure of how Batman knows he’s coming. Superman finds a note reading “Think Fast” before dodging a Batmobile fired missile then being covered in government shelved toxic junk. As Batman drives off, Superman quickly makes up the distance before being blinded by oil that has him fly into the side of a mountain. Batman drives down a lead-lined cave with his location being disguised from other audio of engine revving coming from multiple places.

One sonic blast later and a Superman on his knees, Batman drives by on the Batcycle and launches a kryptonite grappling hook of sorts that pierces Superman’s chest. Batman drags Superman behind him to a location holding a cell to trap him in. Superman struggles and pops the grappling hook out resulting in Batman crashing and both getting knocked out for a short time. But Batman makes it up first, kicks Superman and insults him being motherless (real BVS vibes here) before Wonder Woman breaks up the fight. She tells Superman to stop following orders and follow his heart and criticizes Batman for building a cage to do to Superman what they would do to him, and that there must be darkness in him to respond like that. Superman says he can’t trust Batman, a man who hides behind a lead lined mask, so Batman shows that he is Bruce Wayne. Everything is hunky dory and they all agree to work together and convince the world that even Superman can bring Batman in, while in the end, they will eventually work together as the Trinity for the betterment of the world.

Story 2: Dragstrip Riot – Robin and Kid Flash 

Robin in doing an investigation on some stolen explosives. It leads him to some street racers, so he investigates by doing some racing of his own. During the race, his opponent has some car trouble (due to some sabotage from the people he is looking into) but his opponent is nowhere to be found in the crash. As police arrive, Robin speeds off to the location they are at thanks to the tip from a girl they left behind.

When he gets there, some of the men are already tied up thanks to Kid Flash. Robin and Kid Flash are both investigating the same thing, and they both realize they were each others opponent in the race.

Kid Flash assists Robin to get to the Airfield in time to stop the explosions from killing the President (JFK) who is inbound. After busting some other crooks there, they go about their merry way. However, not before getting a signed picture with the President and him giving them the name of Teen TItans.

Story 3: Wonder Woman and Black Canary (pretty comedic)

Wonder Woman is busting some heads with Black Canary watching. Wonder Woman is frustrating with men and how society treats women as lesser sexes. They grab a playboy-like magazine and look at it and Wonder Woman is completely disgusted by it while Black Canary questions if she went to middle school with her. Black Canary mentions a club with women dressed as rabbits will be opening in Gotham next week, and both of them will be attending it.

Wonder Woman and Black Canary are there, Wonder Woman dressed as a secretary and Black Canary blending in much better with her more known attire (fishnets and all). Wonder Woman catches Bruce Wayne there who quickly splits upon being seen. Wonder Woman has seen enough when she hears that “Hollywood sexbomb Jayne Mansfield” will be busting out of a cake for their pleasure. Wonder Woman pulls Jayne from the cake, strips off her secretary outfit back to Wonder Woman, and hides in the cake while Black Canary wheels her out.

Wonder Woman pops out and shames the men for their piggish approach with women. She asks them to side with her in treating women better, but instead they throw glasses at her. She decides to use force instead. One man throws alcohol on her breastplate and lights it on fire. She takes it off and beats him with it. Next panel is a bunch of men, missing teeth and black eyes, looking up at Wonder Woman who is topless. Black Canary tells her to put her top back on. As they both walk out thinking nobody will tell the story because all the journalists there were men and beaten pretty badly, a woman is seen winking at the reader with a notebook (possibly referencing feminist leader and  journalist Gloria Steinem?).

Sources:

http://www.undertheradarmag.com/interviews/darwyn_cooke_creator_of_justice_league_interview_032008

https://www.cbr.com/wondercon-darwyn-cooke-the-new-frontier-and-beyond

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DC:_The_New_Frontier

Follow the podcast on Twitter: @HypertimePod or send us an email at hypertime2podcast@gmail.com

Follow Josh on Twitter: @jmille99

Follow Allan on Twitter: @TheAllanMuir

Also check us out on https://vgu.tv/ where we post show notes and our Twitter @VGU_TV. If you’re into video games, we also have a couple video game podcasts worth checking out in Players Club Podcast and WIN.

Intro and Outro Music: “RetroFuture Clean” by Kevin MacLeod

RetroFuture Clean Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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